The Accidental Jewelry Maker
November 6, 2016 10:31 PM   Subscribe

I've never made jewelry, but I suspect that's about to change. I was gifted a huge box of jewelry-making supplies and now I'm full of questions. Lascivious details within.

A family friend runs a business that sells beads and stones and other jewelry findings. After seeing the art in my Etsy shop, he said he thought I'd be good at making jewelry and wanted to send me a box of supplies. Here is a picture of the haul. I can take more, closer photos if that would be helpful.

I mentioned that I've never made jewelry. I also very very rarely wear jewelry, and it's not something I'm used to browsing online or in person. Therefore, I may have less of an idea what to do than others. Though I think that can be good because I don't want to make the same old. Which leads me to my first question: are there any good books, videos, blogs, etc. that would be helpful to a novice?

For those of you who have made jewelry before, what advice would you share about the creative part of jewelry making? Or any practical tips, whether you also found them in books or learned about them on your own?

Finally, he sent a bunch of cultured sea glass in blues, greens, and reds. As you can see by my username, I am a mermaid, so I like the idea of this. I'm trying to think of a really cool way to use the sea glass. Anybody here have ideas? I don't just want to make a necklace that's all sea glass.
posted by mermaidcafe to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome! What a fun assortment of beads!

My first recommendation would be to get a nice pair of round nose or bent nose pliers and a good pair of wirecutters. A hardware store would be a great place to get your wirecutters. Here's a place online where you can get a variety of jewelry pliers.

There are some great tutorials online. Fire Mountain Gems has an extensive set of basic tutorials.
posted by photoelectric at 11:41 PM on November 6, 2016

Your public library will have some books on jewelry making in the craft section so you can flip through several and see what strikes you before settling on a style or particular book.

If you use a social network with local friends (such as Facebook, or a local mailing list) a question to the list of "Hey, does anyone make jewelry and want to show me the ropes? I'll provide the wine!" will probably lead to you discovering two or three of your friends do it as a hobby and can show you the basics!

Also Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest for ideas!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:09 AM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sweet stash!

You don't have to make jewelry with those if you don't want to. You could do all sorts of fibercraft and mixed media applications. Beads with larger holes will be great to add texture contrast to yarn-based things (knit, crewel embroidery, string art). Larger beads can be incorporated into things like mosaics or accents in metalwork. Tiny lightweight beads can be treated like particularly fat pieces of glitter, sewed or glued onto cardstock or any textured surface.

Of course if you want to make jewelry that's nice too. If you are lucky, there will be a bead shop in your nearest city that offers classes. I've found that such stores are staffed pretty much entirely by people who also teach the classes or make their own work, so it would also be very helpful for you to just go in and ask this question of someone who can set you up with a basic toolkit. I know you said that you don't want to make the "same old", but the thing about jewelry is that we've been making it since we were humans, so the craft is pretty darn refined at this point. Not that you can't be wonderfully creative, but there are lots of underlying techniques and simple skills that you can learn in a class that you can then apply to whatever strange stuff you want to do later so your work doesn't fall apart or poke anyone in the eye.

Eyebrows McGee has a great point about your public library, too! If I were you, I'd ask the librarian to help me find the books on jewelry making that are checked out most often, or the most well-thumbed, and start with those.

Sea glass is pretty on-trend right now, so if you're interested in selling whatever you make with it you might find success! Personally I love matte/gloss contrast, so what about dipping parts of a piece into a gloss varnish or a metallic paint? If you lined different sizes up horizontally and dipped the bottom into gloss, it would evoke a tide line.
posted by Mizu at 12:25 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Absolutely look into a class at a bead store or even a Micheal craft store or similar. Having the basics shown in person can be great.

I don't have a specific tutorial in mine as I just Pinterest or YouTube, but for the sea glass, I would look up wire wrapping if you have bigger pieces.

At the top of the pic, it looked like you have some pliers...needle nose, round and wire cutters will be needed. Personally, I would get a divided bead box as well for sorting and storing.

Just remember that one of the best things about this - if you don't like what you made, you can take it apart and do something different with little material loss. There is a lively aspect of low commitment here which should free you up to experiment.

What an awesome gift. I may be a little jealous!
posted by MandaSayGrr at 1:36 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

These are great suggestions so far! Thanks for them. I did order a few different threads, some memory wire, and memory wire end caps and cutters last night. I also watched some wire wrapping tutorials.

My sea glass doesn't have a hole in each piece. Without wrapping it, what's the best way to get it on a necklace or bracelet?
posted by mermaidcafe at 3:37 AM on November 7, 2016

If you don't want to wrap the glass, the easiest option is probably to use glue-on bales.
posted by belladonna at 5:11 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

For the sea glass, you might be able to do something with it using solder or something. I bet a cluster of sea glass fused together on on of those C bracelets with the flat place for cabuchons would look pretty cool.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:03 AM on November 7, 2016

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